fbpx

Portraying an invader as Benevolent Saviour through Aristotelian Philosophy of Storytelling

-

By Agha Iqrar Haroon

Agha Iqrar Haroon is a Development Observer. His area of work includes Central Asia, South Asia and Eastern European regions . He is also Chief Editor of DND News Agency
Agha Iqrar Haroon is a senior journalist a Development Observer.
He is also the Chief Editor of DND News Agency.


 

“The first essential, the life and soul, so to speak, of a story, is the Plot,” says Aristotle

Why Alexander III of Macedon is called and known in history as Alexander the Great?

Possible answers are:

He was a fearless great warrior

He marched from Macedon and conquered areas as far as Africa and South Asia

Both answers can be taken as true. However, Alexander did not rule these areas for more than three years in total and died at the young age of 32 and did not leave his Empire or Dynasty behind him.

So what made him Great among the eyes of historians and the people?

The only thing that differentiates him from previous fearless great warriors is excellent publicity, promotion, and documentation of his battles and all work is documented according to given rules of his teacher — Aristotle.

According to historians, Aristotle directed him to document daily events in a diary and then produce war reportages out of diaries but reportages must be interesting in nature and can easily be converted into folklores. It is also indicated in Greek history that Alexander the Great used to ask his team of writers to write scenes for how to attack his enemies. First writers used to write the scenes and then Alexander the Great used to act and wage battles on his enemies as according to scenes and always won the battles because the sequence of scenes ends with the success of Alexander the Great.

Among the many battles fought by outsiders who entered the plains of the subcontinent, the first recorded in history is the battle of the Hydaspes. Battle of Hydaspes is a fight between King Porus and Alexander at the bank of River Jhelum. This battle took place in May 326 BC but its stories are still popular among the masses and the people even today call Alexander the Great instead of Alexander III of Macedon although this battle generated fatigue among his soldiers and they decided to stop marching further in the subcontinent and decided to go back.

According to Aristotle, a story must have pity, fear, and catharsis. These are the basic elements of a compelling story. The concepts Aristotle mentions are chronological.

So if we look at the story of the Battle of Hydaspes, the most popular part of the story is a dialogue between Alexander and Porus, and all three components of the storytelling of Aristotle’s are included in this dialogue which are pity, fear, and catharsis.

The following scene is written by Greek historians and is being reproduced hereunder where you will judge that scene starts with pity what Porus is facing, moves to fears of subjugation among the army of Porus, and then ends at catharsis where Porus is made King again.

Have a look at Dialogue (in the format of the scene produced by Greek historians)

Alexander: Defeated but still so much pride

Porus: Not yet, my kingdom is safe in the hands of my youngest son Malayketu. You have just won the battle, not the war. You can kill me now but the war is on. And which victory do you boast about? You were thrashed by me on the battlefield such that you were rescued by your soldiers by foul means. You trust on this Ambhi who betrayed his own motherland just for gaining political victory. How sure you are that he will not betray you. I will be only happy to achieve martyrdom for the sake of the motherland.

Alexander: Indeed, my army is destroyed, Taxilian army is finished. I can’t further attack Kekaya where your son is ready to face me. You defeated me in a duel, me who has defeated the best of warriors on this planet. This sword of mine which is blooded with the blood of innocents now bows to you. Never before have I seen a great warrior than you, tell Porus how shall I treat you?

Porus: As a king would treat another king.

Alexander: I am humbled by your pride, I cannot give you back your kingdom as you never lost it, I cannot give you back your family as they achieved martyrdom, but yes I can give you back your freedom but in exchange for friendship. I want to experience the beauty of this culture. And yes in this world of mortals, this battle will become immortal for whenever the name of Alexander will be taken, the name of Porus will also be taken with equal pride. If I am the greatest conqueror, then you are the greatest defender.

Porus: Now I know that behind this bloody world conqueror Alexander there is another Alexander who is indeed great by his nature. I accept your friendship and you can stay in my kingdom as long as you will but you can’t proceed any further.

Alexander: Yes my friend. (both embrace)

Porus: Hail world Conqueror Alexander, hail (remaining Paurava soldiers hail)

Alexander: Hail World’s best warrior Porus, hail (Greeks hail)

Alexander, who was an invader and ruined several smaller states of the subcontinent and killed thousands of innocent people, became a hero in the subcontinent and is still known for his benevolence by granting the state of Porus back to him. Millions of parents named their sons after Alexander and Sikander is still a popular name in areas subjugated by Alexander including Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia.

The concept of developing the factor of “Benevolence” for promoting oppressors and invaders had been used by almost every empire that took place after Aristotle.

The majority of us believe that British Empire was benevolent because it provided infrastructure (Railways, roads, electricity, etc) to the subcontinent.

Wherever the United States and NATO attacked and killed thousands of innocent citizens and ruined the countries, allied forces were portrayed as benevolent for killing “ruthless and corrupt” local leadership and for providing “democracy to people of the country attacked by allied forces. Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan are recent examples although there is a long list of such benevolent actions conducted by NATO allied forces. The technique is also used for regime changes by the US-allied forces all over the world and packing political governments by military dictators for the last 80 years in developing countries.

Now, I would like to mention the concept of perception that is provided by Aristotle for easy understanding of his model of propaganda and Aristotelian Philosophy of Storytelling.

Aristotle says that perception is best understood on the model of hylomorphic change. Hylomorphism is a philosophical theory developed by Aristotle, which conceives “being” (ousia–presence) as a compound of matter and form and change of presence is material transformation. A raw lump of bronze is shaped into a statue. In this process, matter (raw bronze) loses one form (morphe) and gains a new form of a statue).

According to Aristotle’s theory of perception, we perceive an object by receiving its form (eidos) with our sense organs. The best example given by Aristotle to understand his theory of changing perception is “house change”. He says that a house changes from blue to white when acted upon by the agency of a painter applying paint, so “perception comes about with being changed and affected. Aristotle treats perception as a case of interaction between two suitable agents: objects capable of acting and capacities capable of being affected.

Making an invader a Benevolent Hero through Aristotelian Philosophy of Storytelling
The best example given by Aristotle to understand his theory of changing perception is “house change”. He says that a house changes from blue to white when acted upon by the agency of a painter applying paint

One can understand how easy is to change reality into a coined and given reality when the cruel reality is painted as rosy with a brush of storytelling by changing the perception about the reality. This is what communication experts play with consumers and remember we are all consumers and target of calculated change of perception by the designers and designers are usually powerful and resourceful groups of society.

Central Desk
Central News Desk.

Must read

Latest article

Enable Notifications for more content    OK No thanks